Judge hears motions in gang case
By joe gorman
At least four members of an East Side street gang who were indicted on gang related charges in August asked a Mahoning County Common Pleas judge Wednesday to dismiss the charges against them.
The main reason, attorneys representing the men argued, is because the crimes they are accused of committing in order to further the existence of the Vic Boys gang either violated their rights to a speedy trial or were past the statute of limitations.
A grand jury indicted 11 people in August for being members of the gang. Some defendants faced additional charges beside being gang members, such as drug dealing and being felons in possession of a firearm.
Judge Maureen Sweeney heard arguments on those motions as well as separate motions to sever their trials from the other gang members who were indicted.
Those asking for the charge of being a member of a gang to be dismissed are Devante Gilmore, 21; Charles Moore, 22; Curtis Jones, 20; and Graylyn Folmar, 24.
To prove that the men were members of the gang, prosecutors had to show at least two previous felonies that they committed that were at the behest of the gang or to benefit the gang. Attorneys for the men argued that the cases were way past the 270-day limit the state has to take a case to trial.
For example, Ronald Knickerbocker, who was arguing on behalf of Gilmore, said his client has been in jail since May 2011 on an involuntary manslaughter charge, for which he is serving a 12-year sentence. He said the fact prosecutors included that charge as one of the offenses that label him as a gang member violates Gilmore’s rights to a speedy trial because it happened past the 270-day limit to bring a charge to trial.
Ed Hartwig, who was representing Jones, said prosecutors offered no evidence that his client’s 2011 involuntary manslaughter conviction was also tied into gang activity until August, which is also past the speedy trial limit.
Assistant Prosecutor Martin Desmond said investigators did not learn those crimes and others were associated with gang activity until they began their investigation in 2012. He also compared the charges to a superceding indictment issued by a grand jury, where a speedy trial clock is often pushed back to that indictment and not the original one.
Judge Sweeney said she will study the motions and will have a pretrial date on Tuesday, where she will hopefully rule on them as well as the motions to sever. Trial for the defendants is set to start Nov. 12.